Google Takes on Online Child Abuse

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 7.28.00 AMAccording to a post from Google’s official blog yesterday, images reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC’s) hotline that depicted probable child abuse rose fourfold from 2007 to 2011. Google chose this weekend to announce that they are stepping up their efforts to combat child abuse, especially the sort that is enabled or escalated by the internet.

Google has already been hard at work on tackling the problem. According to their blog post:

Since 2008, we’ve used “hashing” technology to tag known child sexual abuse images, allowing us to identify duplicate images which may exist elsewhere. Each offending image in effect gets a unique ID that our computers can recognize without humans having to view them again. Recently, we’ve started working to incorporate encrypted “fingerprints” of child sexual abuse images into a cross-industry database. This will enable companies, law enforcement and charities to better collaborate on detecting and removing these images, and to take action against the criminals.

In addition to its current and to-date efforts, Google is establishing two more programs: a $5 million dollar fund to eradicate existing online child abuse images, and a $2 million dollar fund to develop better tools to identify future cases.

Kudos to Google for making a very substantive effort in this important area. While it is almost impossible to keep child-harming content from getting on the internet in the first place, Google is making an effort to keep it from spreading, and possibly point the authorities in the direction of the offending parties.


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